Will AZ Republicans enact the Democrat Agenda

Democrats in Arizona only hold nine seats of thirty in the Senate and 20 of 60 in the House. But if recent reports are to be believed, the GOP-dominated legislature is about to pass a package perhaps unanimously supported by the left.

A special session of the legislature is called for tomorrow (Friday); the crux of the call is to add an additional 20 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits for those who have been out of work. Current benefits run 79 weeks. Brewer and the Democrats have been clamoring to make it 99 weeks. (Two years is 108 weeks.) The pitch to recalcitrant Republicans, like Maj. Whip Steve Pierce, is that it won’t cost the state a dime. But it will cost the federal government many dimes and since Arizona taxpayers are also shouldering the burden of the national debt – currently about $130,000 per taxpayer – it doesn’t make sense to most Republicans (and Independents I’m betting) to spend another dime moving benefits from a year-and-a-half to almost two years.

I’m sympathetic with those who have worked tirelessly in search of a job. The economic toll on many families has been harsh. But if they are really unable to find a job after 79 weeks, what makes 99 the magic number? It’s like the minimum wage argument. At what point is it “too much”?

But more troubling are reports that House leaders want to broker a deal with the governor: 20 additional weeks of unemployment insurance for SB1041 (the bill that subsidizes new businesses at the expense of current businesses). During the regular session, the House and Senate regrettably passed this measure overwhelmingly. The Democrats voted unanimously for these subsidies (evil corporate subsidies?) and only a handful of conservatives opposed them. Thankfully, Gov. Brewer vetoed the bill and said it was unfair, with “the potential to favor new businesses over those who’ve weathered the economic storms with us.”

That’s exactly right. You don’t revive the Arizona economy by increasing taxes on those entities who have weathered the economic storm with you only to provide those extra taxes to the new kids on the block.

The legislature took the first responsible step for getting Arizona’s economy back on track. It produced a sensible budget that relied less on borrowing and gimmicks than years past. This will help long term because as Arizona creeps out of this recession, our state expenses will be more in line with revenues. The legislature also deserves credit for reducing taxes that really are an obstacle to growth: corporate income and commercial property. Granted, these reductions will not happen overnight, but overnight fixes do not exist. If they did, we’d certainly know about them and we (and other states) would have implemented them by now.

Recoveries hurt. They take time to recover from. There are no quick fixes. The last thing state lawmakers should do, however, is enact the Democrat agenda.

Sinema’s interesting take on special interests

State Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Phoenix) wrote in the Arizona Republic that despite voters approving a sales tax increase to fund schools, Republicans cut school funding while “handing out tax cuts for corporations and special interests.” Sinema’s angst over the budget cuts is consistent with her longstanding position on more spending for education. But framing the budget cuts against “tax cuts for corporations and special interests” is a bit of a laugher, since she also voted for special interest tax breaks.

When a bill to subsidize film production (SB1159) made its way to Sinema’s desk, she voted yes. This was a bill that doled out *refundable* tax subsidies to only certain qualifying producers. Arizona taxpayers would have had to pay these targeted subsidies for 30 years. Thankfully, the House killed this bill.

Late in the session, a bill (SB1041) heavily lobbied by business organizations that would have dramatically reduced property taxes for some companies at the expense of others passed overwhelmingly, including with Sinema’s vote. Gov. Brewer rightly vetoed this boondoggle.

I’m well-aware that when Sinema rips the Republican-only tax cuts, she’s referring to the corporate income tax rate cut that begins in 2013. In other words, she opposes the bill that applies to all corporations, but readily votes for the ones that are targeted, which quite clearly defines the term “special interest.” I can only assume that the main reason for her differing views is the price tag. Tax cuts for all are more expensive than tax cuts for some.

Without getting into the efficacy of across-the-board vs. targeted tax cuts, for Sinema’s purposes, it should make no difference. After all, Sinema is critical of the fact that tax cuts occurred at all while education budgets were cut.

So, why would Sinema vote for tax subsidies for film producers and other big businesses? As she puts it, “So, when you voted to raise your own sales tax, is this what you were expecting?”